Saturday, May 10, 2008
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 “Ambassadors For Christ”
Do you remember the evangelistic organisation, "Ambassadors for Christ?" What beeter name to remind us of our role as Christians in this world. The name "Christian" means "one of Christ's!" This speaks of a very high dignity. here is another high dignity that God calls you to live up to. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are an ambassador for Christ! One of the joys of being in Christ is that we are an ambassador for Christ.
(1) AS CHRIST’S AMBASSADORS: WE LIVE IN THIS LAND BUT OUR CITIZENSHIP IS IN HEAVEN
If you have an understanding of what a political ambassador does today, it will help you understand who we are as ambassadors for Christ. Webster’s Dictionary defines an ambassador as “The highest-ranking diplomatic representative appointed by one country or government to represent it in another country or government.” Australia currently has ambassadors serving in nations all the way from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
An ambassador is someone who is appointed to live in a foreign country while maintaining their citizenship in their homeland. What a perfect description of those who are as Christ-followers. As the old song says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.” The Bible teaches there are earthly kingdoms and there is a Kingdom of God, and although we live and work in this world, our real citizenship is in heaven. “Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:18-20)
As a citizen of Australia whenever I travel to another country, I carry a passport. It certifies that I’m an Australian citizen and it allows me to return to Australia. when I’ve been gone. In the same way, we carry a heavenly passport. We are part of the Kingdom of God, and we even have the privilege of being an Official Ambassador of heaven!
It’s important for a good ambassador to understand the culture, language and customs of the land where he lives, but he doesn’t have to adopt those customs. As followers of Jesus, we should do everything we can understand the people of this world, but we live by a different standard.
Sometimes an ambassador must live in a place where there is animosity toward his home country.
The 2004 Australian embassy bombing took place on September 9, 2004 in Jakarta, Indonesia. A one-tonne car bomb, which was packed into a small Daihatsu delivery van, exploded outside the Australian embassy at Kuningan District, South Jakarta, at about 10:30 local time, killing between 9 and 11 people including the suicide bomber, and wounding over 150 others Embassies around the world have often been the target of attacks. In the same way, as you go to your job or your school, if people know you are a Christ-follower, you may be the target of ridicule and scorn. It’s all part of being an ambassador. Sometimes we live in a world that is so very alien to us.
We live in a strange world and we live by different standards.
As ambassadors for our King, Jesus Christ, we represent Him in this world. The greatest fear an Ambassador has is that they will say or do something wrong that would bring shame or dishonour on our nation. Ambassadors are trained in the customs and culture of a nation so they won’t commit any breach of etiquette. Some things considered harmless in our culture are offensive in others. We are Ambassadors for Christ. We are the only exposure to Jesus many people will ever see. That’s why we should live lives of loving kindness toward others. To show them that Jesus loves them. That’s why we should always try to live in such a way that no shame or dishonour is attached to the name of Jesus. Sadly, too many of us live in such a way that we aren’t good representatives of our King. Mahatma Gandhi, who is called the Father of modern India once said: “I don’t reject your Christ, I love your Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ.” So as Ambassadors of Christ, let’s make sure we live in a way to honour our King. Let's live the life of heaven.
(2) AS CHRIST’S AMBASSADORS: WE ARE OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVES OF OUR KING
An Ambassador doesn’t represent himself; he is always on duty to represent our government. Before an Ambassador is sent to a country, he is trained in the proper protocol he should follow in the foreign country. Then when the Ambassador is sworn in, he is given a commission that includes the full authority to represent our government in a foreign land. He speaks for our government. We speak what our King would have us speak. And what He speaks to you today is amazing. He says “Be Reconciled To God”.
‘Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech.., by us: we pray... in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.’ 2 Corinthians 5:20.
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ; certain that God is appealing through us, we plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” HCSB
Upon the cross of Jesus Mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me:
And from my stricken heart with tears Two wonders I confess--
The wonders of redeeming love And my unworthiness.
the wonder of a beseeching God, and the wonder of resisting men,
Two wonders I confess, the wonder of a beseeching God, and the wonder of resisting men,
1. The wonder of a beseeching God
‘We are ambassadors on Christ’s behalf, as though God did beseech you by us,
God is appealing through us, “Be reconciled to God.”
Christ’s is appealing through us “Be reconciled to God.”
Here is an understanding iof the Trinitarian nature of God, God pleads, therefore Christ pleads, Christ pleads, therefore God pleads; and these Two are One in their beseechings,
a. God is appealing through us, “Be reconciled to God.”
He against whom we have transgressed prays us to be reconciled; He doesn’t have to.. We need to, but He does beseeches for it. So intense is the divine desire to win the world to His love, that He will stoop to beg for it rather than lose it.
By His Creation He appeals to us. He the Great creator, by every star of heaven appeals to us to acknowledge our great God and Saviour. Eery beautiful tree and flower speaks of a loving Creator, and speaks to us of Him beseeching us to be reconciled to God.
By His providence He appeals to us. Just yesterday a car went through the front fence of our house at Belmont. A car accident on the road caused a large vehicle to go through our neighbour’s fence and ours. I spoke to the neighbour and she was surprised at the remarkable providence that had saved her life. She had been gardening and repairing a basket hanging from a tree in the corner of her yard. She took a couple f steps back and the tree and the basket were no more. A car had run right through them and carried all before it into our yard. Were it not for those few seconds she would have been killed or very severely injured. And how often has that occurred? Has it occurred in your life? God has remarkably preserved your life. Have you heard His appeal? “Be reconciled to Me, before it is too late! Be reconciled while you still have time!”
b. Christ’s is appealing through us “Be reconciled to God.”
Think of the tears of imploring love which fell from Christ’s eyes as He looked across the valley from Olivet, and saw the Temple glittering in the early sunshine. Think of ‘O Jerusalem! Jerusalem!... how often would I have gathered thy children together.., and ye would not.’
‘Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ That is Christ beseeching. His whole life was the stretching out imploring and welcoming hands to us, and asking us to grasp His hands, and be saved. As the Lord Jesus Christ stretches out His arms on the cross as He dies, in His dying breath He calls to us; ‘Come unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.’
By His outward work He beseeches us. Did you read of Him healing a centurion's daughter? he shows His compassion to the alien and the distraught. he appeals to us in whatever condition we are in, to be reconciled to Him. He touches a leper, and we know He cares for the most despised in our society. He heals the demon possessed, and we know the addict can find a place with Him. He touches the lives of any who will come to Him. We think of a drunken and drug addicted johnny Cash, who truly does see the Light, and we know He can touch even us.
By many an inward touch on our spirits, by many a prick of conscience, by many a strange longing that has swept across our souls, by many an inward voice He has spoken to us of His love, and of our need to be reconciled to Him. You know the times He has spoken deep within your soul. That moment when you have stopped and considered, that moment when you realised, He knows you, He knows your sins, He knows your need of being saved. That inward desire to pray, that inward yearning of the heart to be at peace with God. that is His appeal by His Spirit to your spirit. Will you be reconciled to God?
On Friday a gentleman whom Neville and Daphne had ministered to for many years went home to be with the Lord. Had it not been that they had begged him to be reconciled to God over many years he would not have been saved. Three times in the hour before his heart stopped, he said “ have to go now I have to go home to God.” He had accepted the reconciliation that the Lord offers. How about you?
“God pleads with you. He pleads with you because there is nothing in His heart to any of you but love, and a desire to bless you; He pleads with you because, unless you will let Him, He cannot lavish upon you His richest gifts and His highest blessings. And the sum and substance of all His dealings with every soul is, ‘My son! Give Me thy heart.’ ‘Be ye reconciled to God.’” MacLaren.
c. We are appealing to you, "Be reconciled to God".
St Mungo was one of the most important characters in the Church in Britain in the 6th and early 7th centuries. He was active in what is now central and southern Scotland, northern England and Wales, founding both Glasgow (he is its patron) and St Asaph's. He supposedly knew St David of Wales, possibly St Columba and was even supposed to be related to King Arthur, apparently being his great-nephew. St Mungo, also known by the less familiar name Kentigern, was a bishop and evangelist of Strathclyde. His early teacher, Serf, may have been responsible for giving Kentigern his popular moniker of Mungo, which means 'dear one'. Mungo apparently had contact with the bishop Columba of Iona. He arrived in Glasgow around 540 and was consecrated Bishop of Strathclyde by an Irish bishop. Indisputably, a sermon by St Mungo provided Glasgow's motto: Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the word. Mungo, the 'dear one', carried out his work of preaching the word for a relatively long time. Mungo spent several years in the region, travelling daily from well to well as the town crier, giving out news, harmless gossip and the Gospel. His influence spread as bitter rivalries were resolved at the wells, thieves returned loot and embittered neighbours were reconciled. He died on 13th January, 613, Mungo conducted a believers baptism by complete immersion. In early January it is still rather cold in Glasgow, they warmed up the water for baptism and he died.. probably of heart attack at 80 years of age. No matter what, he wanted people to be reconciled to God. He spoke encouraging others to be reconciled to God. God calls you to be an Ambassador for Him, beseeching others to be reconciled to God. Mungo's whole life was given to the task of reconciling men and women to God, and reconciling them then to each other. How much this should be our mission. Mungo means ("dear friend"). It is because you are dear friends that we beseech you be reconciled to God.
“He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19) Can you imagine an Ambassador who stayed shut up in his Embassy all the time, constantly studying books about Australian history? Can you imagine him only meeting with the other employees at the Embassy, and refusing to go out and talk about Australia because he’s afraid that someone won’t like his message? An ambassador like that would be recalled and fired in a heartbeat. But sadly, too many Christians act that way. We think of our church as a fortress where we come and hide from the world and study our Bibles in our little holy huddles. This IS our Embassy! But our job is to leave the Embassy, and go out into the world and take the message of our King—the message of reconciliation! There are at least four important facets of this message of reconciliation.
1. My sin creates my need for reconciliation with God “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself.” The word reconciliation means “to agree together.” When you are balancing your chequebook, you must “reconcile” what you say you have in your account with what the bank says you have in your account—and if those numbers don’t agree, you know whose mistake it usually is! In the case of Divine reconciliation, the fault is ours 100% of the time. The moment we sinned, we committed a grievous moral breach of etiquette against God. Our sin alienated us from Him, and we are powerless to do anything to fix this broken relationship. But thankfully, we don’t have to do anything because God took the initiative to repair the broken relationship.
2. God came in Christ to reconcile the world (me) to Himself “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ.” When Jesus visited earth, He was God in the flesh, and the reason He came was to reconcile us back to God. We are different from God— He is holy and we are sinners. But because Jesus was both human and Divine, He could relate to both parties. Sometimes when people divorce they give the reason “irreconcilable differences.” Thankfully, our separation from God constitutes a reconcilable difference! As Ambassadors, we have the privilege of announcing this message of reconciliation! Sometimes an Ambassador must deliver a declaration of war, but our job is to deliver a declaration of peace! It’s not Christmas, but any time is a good time to hear the words written by Charles Wesley: “Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King. Peace on earth and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled!’”
3. Because of the cross, God doesn’t count my sins against me “....not counting men’s sins against them.” The word “counting” is the word logizomai, which was a financial term that meant to “take an inventory.” In the KJV it says, “not imputing their sins against them.” Here’s the best way for us to understand what this means, “God doesn’t credit my sins to my account.” Let’s imagine for a moment I’m a billionaire and I told you to go out and charge as much as you wanted on your credit cards, but then when you get your credit card statement, none of your charges appear—instead the credit card company puts the charges on my account. Would you like a deal like that? Sure! When it comes to your sins, that’s exactly the offer God makes. God says all the sins I’ve committed, all those immoral charges, are no longer appearing on my statement. You may be thinking, “Someone has to pay the bill.” You’re right. Jesus has. Jesus paid it all. God takes the sin charges that we rang up and at the cross, He placed all those sins on the account of His perfect Son, Jesus, who was rich in mercy and grace. We’ll say a lot more about his in the next message, but look again at verse 21. It’s one of the greatest verses in the entire Bible. This verse describes the transaction of taking our sins and charging them to the account of Jesus. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
4. God now makes His appeal through me: “Be reconciled to God!” “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” An ambassador doesn’t speak his own words, or offer his opinions, he delivers the message his leader gives him. According to this passage, the message we are to deliver from our king to a world of people who are alienated from can be summarized in four simple words: Be reconciled to God. The fact we announce this indicates that man needs reconciliation. Otherwise we wouldn’t have to insist that people be reconciled, we could just say, “You are reconciled.” We cannot sugarcoat the message. A person without Jesus Christ is facing an eternity separated from God in a place called hell. That’s why we must deliver the message, “Be reconciled!” It is also a loving message of hope, because we are announcing that reconciliation with God is possible. God has already done everything necessary to bring about reconciliation with every person on the planet. At the same time, it is a message that requires a personal response to God’s offer of reconciliation. If reconciliation was automatic, then we wouldn’t have to add the imperative— the command—BE reconciled. Our part in being reconciled with God is simply receiving it by faith. Max Lucado said that if reconciliation is a journey of 1,000 steps toward God, then God has already taken 999 of those steps toward us, and the only step we take is to accept His free gift of eternal life.
As ambassadors of Christ, our job description is to represent our King and deliver His message of reconciliation to the world. Are you doing that? Are you behaving properly as an ambassador? God has called you to be His ambassador. He may not be asking you to die for Him. He’s asking you just to live for Him. We’re all living in a strange land, and the people here may be hostile to your message, but remember that our true citizenship is in heaven. Our job is to simply represent our King.
If you do not know Him yet, then our appeal to you is "Be reconciled to God!"
But I mentioned two wonders. the wonder of a beseeching God, and the wonder of resisting men,
Two wonders I confess, the wonder of a beseeching God, and the wonder of resisting men,
2. The wonder of resisting men,
That is the great paradox and mystery. Nobody has ever fathomed that yet, and nobody will. How could a poor little speck of humanity lift itself up in God’s face, and say, in answer to all His pleadings, ‘I will not!’
The act of refusal is a very simple one. Not to accept is to reject; not to yield is to rebel. You have only to do nothing, to do it all. Today the military Junta of Myanmar still refuse the approaches of our ambassadors to help with Aid relief a week after after a cyclone that devastated their delta region. The death toll is expected to rise from the initial 20,000 to 200,000 through thirst, starvation and disease. 200 million dollars worth of relief stands on their doorstep, and the Junta will not open the door to receive it. How insane is that? no less insane than not receiving the gift of life and love that the Lord offers you.
You say ‘Oh! I will be a Christian some time or other.’ But to delay is to refuse. To delay is to refuse His pleadings. He pleads with you now be reconciled with Him. You don’t have to feel some special feeling! His plea is clear. Be reconciled. Right now! Its there in his Word. Would you argue with God?
He says now is the time of salvation. Right now. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Right now, be reconciled to God. Once more, today will you reject Christ? Perhaps it is done without knowing it; done simply by doing nothing. Oh dear friends, do not stop your ears any more against that tender, imploring love.
Consider how foolish it is to be refusing your highest good and choosing certain ruin.
Why would God be so urgent about beseeching you to be reconciled with Him, if there wasn’t a hell to avoid and a heaven to gain? Why was it so needful for Jesus Christ to die?
Why was it worth His while to bear the punishment of man’s sin?
‘Be ye reconciled to God,’ for remaining unreconciled to God is ruin and destruction.
I have spoken to a person who has seen her husband run off with another woman. His wife had cherished her husband, borne him children, loved and cared for them and served him with a deep and wonderful love. But he repaid her with unfaithfulness. How sinful is that?
Yet how sinful is it that God in love should send His own Son to die for your sins, He should plead with you so long that you should be reconciled to Him, He should plead with you in so many ways, and yet you still despise and refuse His love?
I take, O cross, thy shadow For my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than The sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by, To know no gain nor loss,
My sinful self my only shame, My glory all the cross.
Today we plead with you, be reconciled to God.
Some of the ideas I’m sharing in this message came from a message by Pastor David Dykes in Texas.